First quantum computer could threaten security and data, warns expert

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Washington, July 31 (ANI): A Tel Aviv University researcher has claimed that the first quantum computer could overnight threaten our security and our data.

Dr. Julia Kempe, of Tel Aviv University's Blavatnik School of Computer Science, says that these new computers, still in the theoretical stage, will be many times more powerful than the computers that protect our data now.

Thus, in a bid to keep governments, companies and individuals safe, Kempe is working to understand the power of quantum computers by designing algorithms that fit them.

At the same time, she is figuring out the limits of quantum computers, something especially important so that we can build safety systems against quantum hackers.

"If a very rich person worked secretly to fund the building of a quantum computer, there is no reason in principle that it couldn't be used for malevolent power within the next decade. Governments, large corporations, entrepreneurs and common everyday people will have no ability to protect themselves. So we have to plan ahead," she said.

"If we know what quantum computers will not be able to do, we can find 'windows' of protection for data," she added.

Kempe is now working on future programs that could keep data in quantum computers safe.

Quantum mechanics allows a computer built on these principles, a so-called quantum computer, to perform tasks that are currently thought impossible to do efficiently on a normal computer, such as breaking current encryption standards.

Although the most powerful quantum computer today barely has the computational capacity of a 4-bit calculator, it's just a matter of time until they are as powerful as physicists and mathematicians suspect they can be, she said.

Currently computer operates by manipulating 0s and 1s - which means that a piece of data can be in one state or the other, but cannot be in both states simultaneously.

However, in quantum computing, photons can be in the states 0 and 1 at the same time.

This will give people and institutions phenomenally more computing power, but at the same time leave their data held in binary computers vulnerable to attack.

"Today if you use a credit card it's encrypted. No matter who intercepts the data it would take forever to decode the numbers - even if all the computers we have today were wired together for the job," said Kempe.

On the other hand, a quantum computer could crack the code quickly and efficiently.

"My basic research helps us better plan for the future when quantum computing is a reality," said Kempe.

Kempe's papers were recently published in Computational Complexity, the SIAM Journal on Computing and Communications in Mathematical Physics. (ANI)

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